How To Ruin a Movie
Whitney Houston – just say her name and you want to hear her sing again. What a tremendous talent! I loved her in Bodyguard with Kevin Costner, and like most of her fans, still get weak in the knees when she sings “I Will Always Love You.” Of course, hearing her belt out the National Anthem raises the hairs on the back of my neck. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She could do all types of vocals – gospel, pop, soul, etc.
But the obstacles she faced were many, and Beauty deals with the early ones between her teen age days and her appearance on a popular TV show. Her name is not mentioned. But Beauty, the leading lady, is obviously based on Whitney Houston. Too many similarities with Houston’s life are included in this film (directed by Andrew Dosunmu and written by Lena Waithe) to think it’s based on a fictional character. The only thing missing is Houston’s miraculous voice.
Does “Beauty” tell a Whitney tale?
Yes. So it faces one big fail.
Sounds hide her singing from the start.
We can’t hear her voice from the heart.
Why would a movie play with us?
Cheated I felt; started to fuss.
Story tells of her early days
before she debuts for huge pays.
If we could hear star Beauty’s songs
I would forgive the movie’s wrongs.
A lot of praise goes to the cast.
They are convincing to the last.
Lovely Gracie Marie Bradley gives an intriguing performance in the lead role. She endows Beauty with a knowledge of her talent combined with uncertainty about the contract her money hungry father (the great Giancarlo Esposito) demands she sign. Her mother, played brilliantly by Niecy Nash, wants her to wait. She’s been a back-up singer but never made it to stardom. And then there’s Jasmine (the terrific Aleyse Shannon), Beauty’s best friend and more, who doesn’t like the contract at all. Last, but not least, Sharon Stone excels as Beauty’s manager who pushes her to do songs that would appeal to a white audience.
At the end of this frustrating drama, my husband shouted, “What a minute! We didn’t hear Beauty sing even one song.”
“That was a bold choice by the filmmakers,” I replied. But I felt let down just like he did.
However, highlights of this offering include tender love scenes between Beauty and Jasmine as well as clips of divas like Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and more. Happily, we got to hear all THOSE wonderful voices.
(Released by Netflix and rated “R” by MPAA.)